Making the Most of the Hot Hand
Hot Hand Phenomenon
The hot hand phenomenon is claimed to embody the essence of the saying ‘success breeds success’. It is said to occur when people believe that a person successful at doing something have a greater likelihood of succeeding in following attempts. In reality though, even then they are fully governed by the laws of chance.
Hot hand in sports and life
The hot hand is popularly seen in basketball when a player makes a shot. In such a case, other players are more likely to pass this player the ball with the thought that he will be equally successful the second time around.
It is also often observed that players are successful a second and even a third time around. Don’t we often say, “He’s on fire today!”? According to experts in sports psychology, this phenomenon could be heightened due to the boost of confidence the player gets from making the first shot.
Xu and Harvey confirmed these psychological theories when they found that winners have a greater probability of continuing on the winning streak while losers continue to face failure. This was credited to the fact that winners balanced risky and safe bets as opposed to losers whose desperation to win caused them to place riskier bets to recover losses.
This is why the hot hand phenomenon is sometimes called the Hot Hand Fallacy. It is in stark contrast with the Gambler’s Fallacy, which banks upon the sudden reversal of fortunes.
What you need to watch for
There are cases where players whop have landed a perfect first and maybe even a second shot have failed to land the third. This set the pattern and the player continues to lose.
This is exactly what you need to watch for. If you have won once and even twice, don’t become overconfident thinking that you are invincible. Continue to play the game of life with as much focus as you would if you wanted to land your first shot. This is the secret of making the most of the hot hand.